- Fizzy Thoughts: Mrs. Lieutenant

Mrs. Lieutenant

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Mrs. Lieutenant
Phyllis Zimbler Miller
April 2008
494 pages

This is the very first time I’ve written a review for a book that the author (hello Phyllis…and thank you!) actually sent to me. So, you know, my palms are a little sweaty. I think I have stage fright. I was going to be all formal, because I thought if someone actually went out of their way to send me their book, the least I could do was put some thought and structure into my review. But, seeing as how I’m the queen of informality, and this is my blog, why change now? And besides, I do put thought into my posts (really, I swear), it may just not always look like I do.

So I sat down with Mrs. Lieutenant late Saturday afternoon. This isn’t a book I would have chosen at the bookstore, because honestly, I’m not all that into the Army. And, I must confess I expected something different. For some reason I thought the men would all go to Vietnam in the course of the book. And I was prepared to bawl my eyes out about that. And then I was going to hunt down Lisa and blame my book-induced depression on her, because she gave my name to the author in the first place. But luckily, none of that had to happen. The book takes place entirely in the States, as the four husbands are in officer training at Fort Knox. And although everything isn't all happy-happy, no combat was waged in the pages of the book. So whew, that was a relief… because I really don’t like to read a book with one hand on the book and the other clutching a kleenex. And Hamburger looks at me funny when I cry over books.

I read this book straight through. I finished around midnight, somewhat delayed because I got distracted by a cute movie on tv about two brothers who play a game that turns into real life, complete with their house hurtling through space and getting attacked by lizard aliens. Seriously.

Sorry, where was I? Oh yeah…I read the book in one evening. Because I wanted to know what happened to all of the characters. Which was a surprise, since like I said, I wouldn’t normally pick up a book about Army life, especially Army life during the Vietnam War. I took a history class in college called military strategy (I needed a class in my major, and I was low priority that quarter), and I swear that class was so deadly boring it put me off reading anything that faintly touches on war forever. Luckily, war is not what this book is all about (although each chapter begins with a blurb about what was going with the war at that time).

Mrs. Lieutenant is a story of four women, all married to Army officers during the Vietnam War. Sharon is Jewish, and from the North. Donna is Puerto Rican, and grew up as an Army brat, but the transition from enlisted to officer family is baffling for her. Wendy is a black Southerner, the beloved sheltered child of a physician. Kim is from the South, too, but she’s white and uncomfortable with everyone else, because they’re not white Southerners. These four women, from very different backgrounds and bringing with them very different life experiences, arrive at Fort Knox and find themselves feeling their way through their initiation into Army life together. They are forced to step outside of their comfort zones and interact with people they would never have chosen to befriend. I really enjoyed getting to know all four women and the glimpse into what seems like the highly dictated life of an officer’s wife.

Phyllis Zimbler Miller was a Mrs. Lieutenant and her book reads almost like a diary. I have a sneaking suspicion that she drew heavily on her own experiences as an Army wife for many of the scenes in the book. Which makes me wonder why the choice of a fiction novel that reads like non-fiction, as opposed to a straight memoir? Did the author want the freedom to show the lives of other women? I felt like the author was more connected to Sharon than the other women…she had a bit more depth than the other characters. I also have a sneaking suspicion that there may be more books about Sharon’s experiences as an Army wife, since the cover states that this is a Sharon Gold novel.

So thanks again to Phyllis Zimbler Miller for sending me her book. I enjoyed reading it and stepping out of my own comfort zone to read a book I normally wouldn't have looked twice at.

10 comment(s):

Phyllis Zimbler Miller said...

Thanks so much for this review -- I really enjoyed your informal style! Yes, I envision more Sharon Gold novels. I'm partway through MRS. LIEUTENANT IN EUROPE, and then I plan a third novel when Sharon returns to civilian life. And, yes, Sharon is the most similar to myself, although I was never a Vietnam War protester.

I wrote fiction rather than nonfiction to protect identities and to make certain parts more dramatic. I do have original 1970 army documents on my website at www.mrslieutenant.com -- and I blog about the army then and now at www.mrslieutenant.blogspot.com.

Pump Up Your Book Promotion said...

Wow, wasn't that a neat review, Phyllis? I love this blogger's style...where is she...get me in touch with her! Want more books, soft drink? Cute, cute, cute!

LisaMM said...

Hey J, how very perceptive of you- from what Phyllis wrote, it sounds like you nailed it! I'm glad this all worked out. I love your reviewing style! xoxo

PS I'm also glad you didn't have to hunt me down !!

softdrink said...

More books?!?! Yes, please.

Annie said...

Hi Jill,

Just wanted to let you know that I read "Love Walked In" and really liked it. Great characters and a very enjoyable book overall. Someone donated it to my office lending library and I snatched it up since I'd read your review of it, so thanks! Now I need to get the sequel.

Margay said...

So good to see this book getting good reviews. I think it is very timely story that will echo with many women facing the same today.

bethany said...

great review!!

I loved this one, it is very different than my usual book as well. I think it was a nice switchup :)

Anna said...

Great review! I added the link to my review of Mrs. Lieutenant.


--Anna (Diary of an Eccentric)

Serena said...


I found your blog and your post about Mrs. Lieutenant and I have added your link to my review here:


Serena said...

We're also hosting a contest here:


In a real sense, people who have read good literature have lived more than people who cannot or will not read. It is not true that we have only one life to live; if we can read, we can live as many more lives and as many kinds of lives as we wish. ~S.I. Hayakawa

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.
~St. Augustine

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.
~Mark Twain

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